awake at night

“When you awake in the night,
transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying:
‘Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you,
and to keep you company with all the Angels.'”

St. John Vianney


(sunset over the the gulf /Julie Cook / 2018)

The past several nights I have woken up around 2:30 AM—wide awake.
Hot.
Sweaty.
Uncomfortable.
Despite the AC running and my husband gently snoring, sleep for me is over.

My back aching with the slightest move–and now an aching neck and shoulder.

It hurts to turn, to roll, to twist.

Dreams, when they come, have been vivid, leaving me wondering and pondering.
Pondering much too much for such an unwelcoming hour.

Time passes with no relief as the numbers of the clock tick on and on.
No calm nor slumber.

Sleep, for me, is often elusive but more so as of late.

When the morning light comes, it is almost rude and unkind as
I find it harder and harder to get up since sleep now tries to
arrive right when it’s time to get up.

Exhausted and ill, I grouse at the day.

Last night, my brain turned on, my eyes popped open and it was only 2:30— my mind racing.
I ruminated on and on like a cow chewing cud over my latest odd dream.
Unresolved ancient issues or just the aching of a herniated disc?

I examine the past.
“NO”, I shout to my hyper-focused mind…” this is not the time!”

So my brain now toys with me, as the unending partial lyrics to a song
begin playing over and over as the earworm bores deeper into my brain.

“STOP”, I silently plead to my restless brain….”just let me rest”, I implore.

And so…I pray.
Focusing on that which is greater than the madness, greater than my weariness.
I offer myself over to You as a sacrifice…
Hear my prayers oh Lord…

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”

Over and over I repeat the soothing words until I sense my mind and body quieting in unison.

“My Lord, I offer you myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
You have died for me, and I in turn make myself over to you.
I am not my own.
You have bought me; I will by my own act and deed complete the purchase.
My wish is to be separated from everything of this world;
to cleanse myself simply from sin; to put away from me even what is innocent,
if used for its own sake, and not for yours. I put away reputation and honor,
and influence, and power, for my praise and strength shall be in you.
Enable me to carry out what I profess.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 135
An Excerpt From
Everyday Meditations

It only takes a sign

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14


(James / Julie Cook / 2019)

So the past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy as well as exhausting.

We had another bit of a scare yesterday morning with our little fellow concerning a
potential liver disorder…and so another trip to the pediatrician has us
thankfully monitoring for the time being rather than doing something much more serious.

This little brother is proving to be a far cry from his big sister…
as he is just more fragile and not as seemingly tenacious…

And speaking of The Mayor, she is none too keen having this new usurper in
her midsts.


(first outing for the Mayor and new sheriff—pizza for the family / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in Atlanta with a drive or two home
for a day of rest and regathering.
Nerves, for all of us, have been both frayed and raw…
Fatigue, exhaustion, and worry have dominated our days and nights.

So since I have been driving back and forth over these past many weeks,
two small rural church signs have caught my eye…

The first sign:
God is speaking.
Are you listening?

The second one:
I Am is coming

Both signs piqued my tired soul’s interest.

The first sign offered a good wake up call.

For despite my willy nilly running around all frantic, coupled by a self-absorbed burden of worry…
I fear I’ve not been listening…I’ve not been listening to anything around me let alone
listening to the Great I AM.

Secondly, when I initially saw this second sign, I had to do a quick double take…
because grammatically I was a bit perplexed…

I.
am.
is.
coming.

I am is…??

Huh??

And then it dawned on me….ahhhhh….

The great I AM is coming…

And it was in those two statements that I found a sudden rush of calm along with a sense of
great humility.
Because it was twice the Great I AM spoke to my weary soul.

The One who is greater and bigger than any burden or worry I may have on this earth.
He sees.
He knows.
He hears.
He is listening.
And He is present.

Sometimes it only takes a sign…or two.

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

the common sense of the obvious

“A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:
a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright.
This is common sense really.
You understand sleep when you are awake, not well you are sleeping.”

C.S. Lewis


(Percy assumes the throne is his…it is not / Julie Cook / 2018)

No, Percy’s name is not Autumn and no that is not Percy’s chair,
it is Autumn’s chair.

Yet Percy thinks that what is Autumn’s is actually and naturally his…
because he was the first baby here in this house and therefore anything that is
for a baby is his by proxy.

In Percy’s brain, that all makes sense.

So the stroller is his…

That’s him underneath.
He prefers to be up top but at the time it was unfortunately occupied.

Autumn’s finnbin is his.
(That Scandinavian baby box I ordered so Autumn can snooze comfortably after her
workout on her play mat…of which is also Percy’s…as in his playmat.

When I’m busy folding clothes on the bed and Autumn is busy snoozing, Percy snoozes too.

So I really don’t understand why Gregory got so upset the other day when one of his very
expensive hearing aids disappeared and he naturally assumed Percy took it.

Years ago, poor Gregory was involved in a hunting accident and is now totally deaf in one
ear with considerable hearing loss in the other ear.

He gave into hearing aids about 8 years ago and has fussed and cussed them ever since.

They don’t work, despite costing a small fortune.

He’s lost one in the ocean.
He’s lost one someplace else that we can’t remember, otherwise it might not be lost.

Replacing them is a pain and another small fortune.

And so obviously, if Percy sees them say sitting on, say the counter, or by Gregory’s chair or
on the shelf by the shower when Gregory forgot that they were still in his ear when he got
in the shower and had to quickly get them to a dry spot…
Percy just assumes that Gregory has laid them out for him to happily take.

If you are not familiar with hearing aids…they are these tiny, yet expensive little
contraptions you shove into your ears.
They have tiny little batteries and tiny volume controls and they work by amplifying sound.

Unfortunately, Gregory claims they amplify the wrong sounds.

If you’re in a crowded restaurant, they amplify the noisy background chatter rather
than the true target, that being the person sitting across from or next to you…
as in me with whom he’s trying to communicate.

The waiter asks “Sir, how would you like your steak cooked?”

“I’ll have blue cheese thank you.”

With me then having to interject
“he’d like it medium and the blue cheese goes on the salad…”
this as he looks at me as though something happened but he’s just not sure what.

And whereas it can be quite comical and funny…
In actuality, it is very frustrating and equally maddening.

And can, more times than not, make his life just darn miserable.

Anyone who wears hearing aids will certainly testify to such frustration.

As can anyone living with said folks who suffer from hearing loss…
There is simply an awful lot of repeating, yelling, screaming, exasperation
and hands simply being thrown up in the air.

“WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME???”

BECAUSE I SAID IT THREE TIMES AND YOU STILL DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID”

“WELL I’M SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR, REMEMBER!”

“AND DON’T SCREAM AT ME CAUSE YOU’RE HURTING MY EARS!”

It’s a vicious cycle

So I think the real reason as to why Gregory gets so upset when the hearing aids go missing
is not so much because they work, but rather because they cost a small fortune.

And here is where our real story continues…

The other evening Gregory went to take a shower and took out the hearing aids,
placing them on the counter in the bathroom.

One of them mysteriously disappeared.

I say mysteriously because two were there, and then two were not.

It wasn’t until after his shower that he’d come back to the den to watch TV that
he remembered he needed to go back to get his hearing aids.

If he doesn’t put them in while watching TV, the television is turned up so loudly,
I have to leave the room.

Suddenly I heard my name being called in a not so pleasant manner.

I race to the back making certain everything was okay.

“Julie, I can’t find but one of the hearing aids.”
“Percy got it.”

“How do you know Percy got it?”

“Who else would have gotten it?”

“Maybe you didn’t have both of them with you when you took a shower and the other
one is by your chair or still in your pant’s pocket.”

“I already checked the pants and I remember plain as day putting them here on the counter…
plus I remember seeing “him” in here.”

I did not like the way he had said “him” and I wasn’t too keen on how this was going.

I will admit that there have been a few occasions that Percy may have actually taken one
of the hearing aids, thinking of it as some small squeaking creature. And he may have
actually played with it as he would, say, a small creature…
Batting it wildly across the floor and tossing it up in the air as if it was a poor living
creature to be toyed with before a slow torturous death.

I know this because I must confess, I’ve caught him doing such.
My fear being he’d somehow get the battery out and swallow it.

So imagine my then having to fuss when Gregory obviously and carelessly forgets to
securely put away the hearing aids when he takes them out. This in turn potentially allows
for Percy to potentially get a hold of the hearing aids which potentially lead to his swallowing
a battery and potentially having to have some sort of emergency surgery.

Talk about a small fortune.

Plus as his mother, I have to defend this baby.

And so I spent about an hour that night scouring the house looking for said hearing aid.
All the while Gregory kept looking angerly at Percy,
demanding Percy tell him what he had done with the hearing aid.
All the while poor Percy was simply looking innocent as a lamb.

I crawled on the floor, looking eye level across the rugs, peering underneath the couch,
the chairs, the tables.

I didn’t remember the house looking, so, well, dusty and dirty…hummmmmm.

Finally, I gave up for the night because I knew tomorrow was another day.

So…for four long hours the following morning, I looked high and low.

I vacuumed the entire house, I dusted, I swiffered and I carefully looked, while on all fours,
investigating every inch of the house.

I opened closet doors.
I looked under cushions.
I flipped over every pair of shoes.
I debated calling the vets telling them I needed to x-ray Percy’s stomach…
and I even considered the unthinkable…sifting through the litter box.

I called Gregory who was at work, only halfway hearing.

“Gregory, I can’t find it anywhere…”

There were a few choice words I can’t repeat.

So I did what I always do in a crisis.
I prayed.

I prayed earnestly to God…explaining that I knew He knew how expensive the stupid
little things were and that I really needed to find it.

I decided to check under the couch in the living room one more time,
despite having already looked, dusted and vacuumed there twice this
particular day and once the night before.

With flashlight in hand, I got back down on my hands and knees, bent way down
almost on my head, lifted up the kick pleat and shined the flashlight into the far recesses
when low and behold…there it was.
Despite my having already looked three times total under that couch.

Ecstatic, I called Gregory and explained my answered prayer.

His reply was “Good, and when I get home, Percy will be tried in a court of law, my court.
He will be tried to the full extent of the law, my law.
He will be tried and found naturally guilty and punished…better yet, banished.”

Donning my best defense attorney hat, I proceeded to explain that since no one had actually
seen Percy take the hearing aid…let alone seen him take it to his favorite hiding spot
under the couch…the same hiding spot he goes to when, say a “stranger” comes in the house,
and he is afraid…or the same hiding place that his favorite toys often rest.
There is simply no clear-cut obvious explanation…only mere conjecture.

It is therefore only presumption that he is guilty as there was really just no way
to prove that Percy took it as there were no witnesses.
Peaches, the other cat…did not count.

I even threw in the fact that had
Gregory taken better care, putting the hearing aids in their case, it never would have
disappeared in the first place.

I was beginning to walk on thin ice.

But in the end, it’s all really pretty darn obvious is it not?

Who else would have, could have, taken it??
Especially given Percy’s proclivity and track record demonstrating his lack of restraint with
hearing aids, there is a pattern to his madness.

Yet I was simply running with it…to the far reaches of the absurd.

And thus my far out over-reaching is no more absurd then what you and I are hit with on a
daily basis flowing from our progressively insane society.
A society that is happily playing fast and loose with all things truth, common sense and
downright obvious.

I was running with it just like our own politicians, our legal eagle justice system
and even now our entertainers are running off with the obvious as they thrive to live to
shuffle and distort, to rile and defile.

They twist and turn the obvious and the truth around in such a way that they first convince
themselves while wielding their charms to twist the obvious into the oblivious for
everyone else.

And should you or I dare to question or think otherwise…questioning their form of the
“truth” …then you will be punished or even better yet, exiled…
much like Gregory decided to do with Percy…banished.

And I for one have grown weary of it all.

So this little tale about a cat and his hearing aid fetish serves not merely to
entertain us but rather to remind us…reminding us of the absurdity of that which
is currently circulating around us.

It reminds us of the lack of common sense and the twisting of the blatantly obvious
as the culture gods have taken the ultimate Truth and created the absurd.

Because remember, there’s no better way to ellude the average citizen than to
confuse him or her…so that way, no one really cares as to what is really what.

Now how did that stuffed mouse get in my shoe…?

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them;
the sins of others trail behind them.
In the same way, good deeds are obvious,
and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5:24-24

thrown to the wolves

“Throw me to the wolves and
I’ll return leading the pack”

Unknown

Bullied.
Intimidated.
Maligned.
Mocked.
Ridiculed.
Excluded.
Harangued.
Lambasted.

All sorts of adjectives, verbs, adverbs…
ugly words…
words usually used to describe the negative.

Words that are thrown out at the current President.

Mean-spirited words

Words used by Democrats referring to Republicans.
Words used by Republicans referring to Democrats.

Words used by mean kids to frazzle the nerves of kids who are different.

Insulting words.

Words used by an ever increasingly angry society…

Words intended to wound and harm.

Words used by the media and even sadly the Church to pummel
a pastor who has opted to stand up to this post-Christian, progressive liberal culture…
a culture that uses such words to threaten Christians who happen to follow
the Word of God.

A man who is feeling isolated as he grows weary fighting the good fight.

The following words and link are from our Wee Flea friend who expresses his frustration
with being ripped apart by a press and thrown under a bus,
or more aptly to the wolves, by his own governing church body…

And so when one of our family members is under attack, perhaps the rest of us
should think about circling the wagons in their direction…

What can you do?
Pray…please.
Private messages of support – thanks.
Public statements of support even better.
Most won’t write to newspapers or be asked to publicly comment,
but what you can do is just say a word in season when you have the opportunity.
You can speak up in your schools, universities, and workplaces –
in a tactful, loving and honest manner. Especially when you are asked.
And if, as a result of someone reading about what I said,
you are asked what you think and if you support me,
please don’t give the kind of political, ‘neutral’ answer that the Free Church did
(because that just adds fuel to the fire).
Dare to say yes and be prepared to give an answer when you are asked why.
The more people who stand up and refuse to be intimidated,
the more we are likely to see things change for the better.

David Robertson

Thrown to the Wolves – What happens when you dare to question the Trans agenda.

PSALM 62

My soul finds rest in God alone;
From him comes my salvation sure.
My safety, fortress, sheltering rock—
In him alone I am secure.

How long will you assault a man?
Do you all seek to lay him low—
This leaning wall, this tottering fence—
And bring about his overthrow?

They plan his fall from his high place;
They take delight in spreading lies.
With false and flattering mouths they bless,
But in their hearts curse and despise.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone;
In him my hope is ever sure.
My safety, fortress, sheltering rock—
In him alone I am secure.

daunting

‘Hope and change’ has become a cliche in our nation,
and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change
from what God has blessed.

Billy Graham

To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune;
to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it;
to go through intrigue spotless; to forego even ambition when the end is gained–
who can say this is not greatness?”

William Makepeace Thackeray


(seagull surveying the tide / Julie Cook / 2017)

The task, should we choose to accept it, is nothing less than daunting.
To grow neither weary nor faint in the face of all that stretches before us.

To conform, to forget, to be worldly wise…the siren calls are ever more shrill.

Can you stand while facing the maelstrom, fully aware that you will be knocked
down, caught in the swirling toxic mix,
unable to surface when absolutely necessary?

Can you remain resolute?
Can you insist on what is right when your’s is the only voice left crying above the
madness?

Are you willing to defend the Fatih—the Truth, the One True God along with His Word…
a word that is absolute despite the cultural allure crying above all other words…

Will you fight against a culture that denounces you, ridicules you
and scorns you?

Can you withstand the taunts, the ridicule, the defamatory attacks?

Because in the end, that is what it will be striped down to….
a time for the courageous of faith to stand up and resist…

And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

tired and out of time

“Photography takes an instant out of time,
altering life by holding it still.”

Dorothea Lange


(Mother’s tiny tea rose is blooming again / Julie Cook / 2017)

I want to thank all of you who have read my posts about Dad—
offering your love, support and prayers.

It was a very long day and night…
our time is running out…
there are now raging hallucinations…
the body is imploding as toxins have their way…
agitation plays havoc…

And everyone is weary…

Your prayers have meant so much as we continue to be sustained by that most Mystical connection…
As I now ask for prayers leading to that eventual peace which surpasses all understanding….

I’ll be back soon…

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.
But he laid his right hand upon me, saying,
“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Revelation 1:17-18

in all of our tears… there rests the Divine

“A sense of the divine presence and indwelling bears the soul towards heaven
as upon the wings of eagles.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

img_0936
(ornamental cabbage / Julie Cook / 2017)

Obviously I am tired.
Not in a working-out sort of tired.
Not in the end of a really long day or week sort of tired.
Not in the sleep deprivation sort of tired.

I’m just weary.
And I am very tired.
And I am overwhelmed.

For such is the season of my life

And such is the life of a person who is caring for aging parents…
where one of the two is in the process of dying from cancer.

The daily commuting to and fro is hard.
The coordinating of the care, the medical issues, the groceries, the house…
that is all hard.
The lack of time for one’s own world and home is hard…

Life?
Who has one?

Friends?
What are those?

Clean house?
hahahahahaha……

Yet it is to the waiting and watching for the inevitable…
that is the hardest.
It is also the saddest.

For ever since mother died 30 years ago, it’s been pretty much, for good or bad,
just me and dad.
I took over the roll of parenting him when both mother and my grandmother died just
months apart.
I had just turned 26 at the time.
And despite his remarrying when he was almost 70, it’s really just been me and him.

Watching the body slowly failing and falling apart…
The moans and groans of pain…
The halting morphine induced thoughts and speech…
The sounds, sights, smells…
nothing good.
Especially when I’ve already done the same thing 30 years prior.

Add to that the now spouse…the one who suffers with the ever increasing dementia…
the one who has nary a clue as to who any of us are…
it makes things either really really comical or really really sad…
…and my money is on the comical.

Oh but I don’t want to waste our time here today bemoaning my life.
You really don’t want to hear about it anyway.
No one really likes a complainer…

Yet maybe we ought to try telling that to all those nutters out there who are currently
spending their time shouting, marching, demonstrating and protesting…
I bet they’re tired…
tired of fussing…
just as much as the rest of us are tired of hearing
and seeing it all…
but I digress….

I can’t even find respite in my sleep…
for in my sleep are the dreams of a mind that is over burdened.

In last night’s dream there was this scene of my mother’s funeral where my husband
decided to wear a Hawaiian shirt rather than a suit, rendering me mortified.

The reality is that my mom’s funeral was over 30 years ago and my husband doesn’t own
nor would he ever wear a Hawaiian shirt.

Or how about the other night when my husband had to shake me awake in order to get me to stop
“screaming” in my sleep…
all because I was dreaming that I had walked into the house that use to be our house years ago
and there were strange people, squatters, trying to take over the house…
I was screaming at them to get out.
A disconcerting moment at 3 AM when one’s spouse is sound asleep.

The reality was that I had flipped through the television and caught a bit of that alligator
Swamp People show…there had been a devastating flood in southern Louisiana last
year and one of the regulars on the show had to leave his home because it had flooded.
The episode showed him coming back to the house after the flood waters had receded…
leaving behind a house full of huge bullfrogs and a giant snapping turtle.

Or how about the other night when I was dreaming that I was trying to take my son,
who in the dream was a toddler but in real life is almost 30,
in order to seek safety because the planet was under attack by evil aliens…
space aliens, not the illegal variety…
and we were racing in a car, desperately trying to find safety as we were having to hit,
running over, the evil invaders in order to get away….

The reality was that I had flipped through, once again, the channels catching a brief
snippet of the movie Fury on the History Channel—
it was right when the Sherman tank, commandeered by Brad Pitt’s character,
went rolling over the heads and bodies of Germans in their fox holes, naturally crushing them…
I think that’s when I flipped it as I wasn’t up to the horrors of war that evening…
only to have them come flooding back oddly in a dream…sigh….

So not even in sleep is there a safe haven these days.

Yet…however…
no matter how bad things may be right now…
No matter how sad,
how heavy,
how hard…

I know I do not go this alone…
Despite often feeling very much alone.

I can’t make dad better, I can’t even make him feel better right now.
As this is now all pretty much out of my hands…

Yet I know that neither Dad nor I are alone in this.
Despite the naysayers cries, those non-believers who scoff
at the purported “fairytale” which is to be found at the center of all of this…
There is a Hand moving much deeper in all of this…

For this particular moment in time is but fleeting…
despite the seemingly never ending and endless melancholy
merry go round we now ride…
For there are blessings, there is Grace…
and there is the Divine…
the very hand of God…

“Rejoice in the Lord,’ said St Paul (Phil. 3 : 1).
And he was right to say, ‘in the Lord’.
For if our joy is not in the Lord, not only do we not rejoice,
but in all probability we never shall. Job, as he described the life of men,
found it full of every kind of affliction (cf. Job 7 : 1-21),
and so also did St Basil the Great.
St Gregory of Nyssa said that birds and other animals rejoice because
of their lack of awareness, while man, being endowed with intelligence,
is never happy because of his grief.
For, he says, we have not been found worthy even to have knowledge of the blessings
we have lost. For this reason nature teaches us rather to grieve,
since life is full of pain and effort, like a state of exile dominated by sin.
But if a person is constantly mindful of God, he will rejoice: as the psalmist says,
‘I remembered God, and I rejoiced’ (Ps. 77 : 3. LXX).
For when the intellect is gladdened by the remembrance of God,
then it forgets the afflictions of this world, places its hope in Him,
and is no longer troubled or anxious.
Freedom from anxiety makes it rejoice and give thanks;
and the grateful offering of thanks augments the gift of grace it has received.
And as the blessings increase, so does the thankfulness,
and so does the pure prayer offered with tears of joy.”

St. Peter of Damascus